Arrived one day early in LA before the cruise. Stayed at the LAX Marriott. My wife chose this against based on the fact that Princess was offering a transfer from the hotel to the ship. Nice enough property but the location is poor if you want to sight see without renting a car. Cab fare to Hollywood was approx. $55. We took a the #3 bus to Santa Monica. The cost was $2 and took about 35 minutes. Went to the farmers market, walked along the beach and the pier. Wished we would have stayed here. Ship left at 4. We got to the pier a 1:45. No lines and check in was a breeze. Made a suggestion to Princess to offer another hotel option pre cruise.
There were pros and cons to the ship. Let me say this. This was our 10th cruise and 5th with Princess but first on this ship. We are middle class and would classify us as low maintenance. It seemed to us the service on the ship was a little below normal in the buffet. Quite often you would see the wait staff standing around talking to each other when there were drinks to refill and tables to clean. I thought the food was very good and offered variety. Never ate in the dining room so I cant comment on it. The new specialty pizza station is a nice addition.
Our room steward was very good. We never wanted for a thing. The bed was terrible. We actually saw people bringing foam bedding back on the ship. The entertainment was fair. The first couple of shows by the singers and dancers were ok. Their last show Born to be Wild was really good. There was no sail-away show, no crew talent show. I thought the cruise director was dry but the other members of the staff were quite funny and engaging.
I give very high marks for the folks in the spa. We spent quite a bit in the spa but we were treated very well and felt like we made friends with several people. The ship itself was clean and in good condition from what we could tell. In summary about the ship and crew is one that in our opinion things were really good to nothing special.
We chose this cruise based on the Port Of Calls. We had calm seas and good weather. Several days it was early afternoon before the fog would burn off First stop was Santa Barbara.
We did a whale watching excursion. Followed a mom and it's calf for about 5 minutes. Saw quite a few dolphins. Santa Barbara's downtown area was nice to walk around in. Went to the court house. A beautiful building with great views from the top.
San Francisco was next. Did the HoHo tour. This was a fun tour that allowed us to see most of the city highlights. We had been there before 10 years ago so for one day it was the best option for us. Just a fun place with many sights to see and some interesting people.
Sea Day-- Slept in a little. Went to the spa and found a place to lay in the afternoon sun.
Astoria Or was next. A hidden little gem. No glitz or glamour here. A town with extremely nice people, a few landmarks to visit (we did the Flavel House and Astoria Column) some nice brew pubs and the best fish n chips I have ever had a Bow Pickers.
Seattle-- Another fun place. Nice weather with no rain. Did the Underground Tour in Pioneer Square and spent the rest of the day in Pike Place Market. Had been here before so we had already done several of the other touristy things.
Victoria-- Toured the castle did a little shopping went back to the ship (to the spa) then back into town for dinner at the Bard and Banker. Nothing like fresh Canadian Beer!!
Debarkation was in Vancouver.
In closing it may sound like we didn't enjoy a lot of things but actually we really did have a good cruise. Having sailed on Princess before we were accustomed to things that weren't done this cruise. The biggest gripe was the bed on the ship. I wished we had more time in Vancouver. For us the expense and the flight home made more sense to us to go back to Seattle to fly home I know this was a relocation voyage but I suggested to Princess to either make this an 8 day voyage with an overnight in Vancouver or a 7 day and skip Victoria with an overnight in Vancouver.